The many upsides of a happy workforce

Short version of an article by Lennox Morrison on

Lennox wrote an article about Happiness at work and starts with the Dutch company Incentro that in 2012  did something surprising: they decided their number one priority would be the happiness of their staff. Incentro once operated as a traditional online services provider, with a top-down hierarchy of bosses and employees. But after a market downturn between 2002 and 2005, the management rebooted to become less flashy but more fun; a place where talented, ambitious young professionals would want to work.

Now, all staff are equal and all information about the business is shared. Instead of the usual pyramid structure, people work in independently functioning ‘cells’ – groups of 60 or fewer. As well as organising their own work, they take part in company-wide decisions and even set their own salary. Rather than senior management dictating pay rises, each ‘cell’ or team decides whether they are happy to share salary information. If so, they make a collective decision on what they should earn – based on everyone knowing the full financial picture of the company.

Lennox also writes about the Corporates Rebels, which helped Incentro fine-tune their ideas, the approach. Co-founders Pim de Moree and Joost Minnaar stepped out of corporate life to travel the world collecting pioneering ideas on how to foster a happy workplace. De Moree tells his clients the key to happiness “involves moving from profit to purpose, from hierarchy to a network of teams, from leaders who tell people what to do, to leaders who ask how they can best support [their team], from rules to freedom, from secrecy to transparency.”

In the original article you can read about economist Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, a professor at the University of Oxford’s Said Business School. He points to a 2014 study, which suggests that raising people’s happiness makes them more productive by between 7% and 12%. In a separate study, researchers took Fortune’s annual list of ‘Best Companies to Work For’ and compared it over time with how peer companies performed on the stock market. They found that the top best-to-work-for firms outperformed the others, and also that investors undervalued the intangibles of employee well-being.

You can read the whole article on

Want to read more about Incentro? Try this article:

 @ Incentro, it’s all about employee happiness 

Would you like to read more from the Corporate Rebels:

The 8 habits of companies you wish you worked for (and how to put them into practice)


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